/ Modified jul 3, 2019 3:30 p.m.

Organizers submit petitions for Tucson 'sanctuary city' initiative

The group says it has more than twice the number of signatures needed to get initiative on city ballot.

Sanctuary-init-boxes Boxes containing petitions collected by the People's Defense Initiative were displayed on July 3, 2019, before the group submitted them to Tucson city officials. The group claims it collected 18,155 signatures, more than the 9,200 needed to qualify its proposed Sanctuary City ordinance for the Nov. 5, 2019 Tucson city election ballot.
Steve Jess/AZPM

Organizers of a "sanctuary city" initiative campaign turned in petitions that they say contain more than 18,000 signatures to put the measure on the Tucson city ballot. That's nearly twice the number needed to qualify it for the ballot.

The executive director of the People's Defense Initiative, Zaira Livier, said the message of the campaign is to tell undocumented immigrants that they are welcome in Tucson.

Zaira-news-conf-hero VIEW LARGER Zaira Livier, executive director of the People's Defense Initiative, speaks to a reporter after a news conference on July 3, 2019, at which the group announced it had collected more than 18,000 signatures for its "sanctuary city" initiative.
Steve Jess/AZPM

"To our undocumented community and our migrant community: We love you. We appreciate you. You are safe. We want you here and we're ready to fight for you, and protect you, and that is the message that we're willing to die on a hill for," Livier told supporters and media gathered outside Tucson city elections offices on East 12th Street.

The proposed law contains many steps intended to protect undocumented immigrants in Tucson, such as preventing city police from trying to determine a person's legal status in some situations.

City attorney Mike Rankin told the Tucson City Council in a January memo that many of the petition's proposals are in direct conflict with Arizona law, and would hamper local police efforts to investigate drug offenses and other crimes.

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